Amazon’s fashion division has released a paper holiday catalog. And to me*, it’s a bit of a mess.
It is 64 pages of well staged, attractive, tasteful photography and type. Yet in the end, it typifies why Amazon’s fashion division continues to struggle.
Selling clothes is not like selling USB cables. Or dog treats. Or books. Because clothes are more personal. You literally put them on your body for hours at a time. They are visual cues to other people around you. They give observers clues as to the decisions you make. Because THIS is what you decided to wear today.
And while the catalog looks nice (whoever Amazon hired to put it together did a fine job, this ain’t about that), what lies within proves to me that Amazon could stand to pay a little more attention to what they’re selling, instead of how they sell it.
Kenneth Cole Reaction Polyester Tux – $145
Combatant Gentleman Navy Blue Slim Fit Suit – $160 (no thank you)
Young Kings by Steve Harvey Tailored Fit Sportcoat- ? it’s not on their site yet?
There are movers, and then there are makers. Rare be the person or company that excels at both. Amazon is arguably the best, non state backed/military mover in the history of civilization. Maybe. And they have proven that this excellence in moving works incredibly well when it comes to less public, more impersonal goods, such as USB cables, dog treats, and books.
But the sheer power of the mover cannot always overcome a lack of ability in the maker department, especially when it comes to something personal AND public like clothes. Because no matter how good the mover is at getting the products to their customer, if upon arrival there is no there there, then the mover has failed.
And so often, movers, especially the excellent ones, just can’t grasp this. They are blinded by verbs and lose sight of the nouns. This holiday catalog proves Amazon’s Fashion division hasn’t figured this out yet. Mostly.
The Amazon Goodthreads 100% Merino Sweater. Goodthreads is good!
Why aren’t they doing more of this?
Aside (and this is a big exception) from their terrific in-house brand Goodthreads (a rare, oddly successful attempt to dip their toe into the “maker” pool), this catalog is a mishmash of poorly curated crummy-to-meh brands, out of place luxury goods, and basics that are so basic they make the norm core movement look like a rave on the edge of the apocalypse.
Or in other words… same ol’ clothes section at Amazon.
There is also proof within these pages that the mover is trying to shake, just enough, to distract from the fact that there is not a lot of “there” there.
There are no prices on the pages. Nope. Not a one. Sure, prices fluctuate on Amazon and perhaps that’s one of the reasons. But not even a ballpark price? Why not? You are, instead, directed to “scan and shop.” Scan a code on the page, and then you can shop from your phone. Therefor eliminating one more mental disincentive (the price on the page) on the way to the point of sale. Screw the prices on the paper! Scan and click first! LOOK. IT’S RIGHT THERE. PUSH THE “BUY” BUTTON YOU PRIME SUBSCRIBING PILE OF FLESH AND BONE. Oh and while you’re here… dog treats?
How often are you away from your phone? Never?
Then you’re always just a few taps away from the register. Wait, what’s a register?
So what’s the answer, if they even care? I hesitate to point this out for free, but they’ve already solved this problem. They’ve got experience in taking their absurd “mover” power and leveraging it in the “maker” realm. It’s right under their noses. Seriously. Take a whiff. Smell that Jeff? That’s Whole Foods.
Food is a lot more like clothing, and a lot less like USB cables. It’s highly personal. The clothes go on, but the food goes in. And that means it’s something that can easily be screwed up by a mover who is too in love with how good they are at moving. Look at TV dinners. It may be crap, but DAMN it’s convenient!
Food is more like clothes than USB cables.
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Buy one. OR, get better at curating & cultivating good/great makers! That’s Goodthreads! Goodthreads is good. Do more Goodthreads! But whatever you do, Mr. Mover Man, don’t fall in love with the moving process at the cost of what you’re actually delivering.
Yet it seems like for now, if this new holiday catalog is any indication, that’s precisely what Amazon Fashion continues to do.
*For the record I am neither a mover nor a maker. So the heck do I know about anything?